Parliamentary stable


Deborah Coddington runs her eye over the parliamentary stable:

Helen Clark is obviously the old bay mare. For years, she’s delivered a stellar performance, occasionally stumbling but quickly finding her feet. She’s bossy.

Like the grey mare, Trixie, I rode along the south Wairarapa coast last week, Clark must be at the front of the pack or she gets snappy, laying her ears back and kicking or biting the other horses.

When things go her way she walks out briskly, interested in her surroundings, a great ride.

But start going downhill, or let other horses get in front, and she pig-roots – a minor form of bucking – tosses her head and turns caustic.

John Key’s unproven as station hack, eventer or showjumper, but is worth persevering with.

A vet check would return positive recommendations – he’s sound and has never foundered . . .  

Key’s always well turned-out, has pleasing paces, and given time and challenges, could become a winner.

Winston Peters is the show pony who delivers on promises.

Beautifully groomed; mane and tail shampooed, brushed, then plaited for extra points, he’s charisma on fetlocks. With his coat gleaming, hooves blackened, saddle and bridle clean and supple, he dances into the ring rolling his eyes, playing to the crowd, certain he’s going to scoop the prizes despite most judges writing him off at each new gymkhana.

But just when this crowd pleaser’s on track for the rosette, as Bob Harvey said of his performance as Labour president, the show pony shat in the parade ring.

The powerful, thrillingly scary, rearing, snorting and occasionally uncontrollable stallion has to be Hone Harawira.

Nobody expected this steed to grow from the shaggy, station-bred, desperado he once was, into the impressive black National Bank lookalike he’s become. . .

. . . With Peter Dunne, the name says it all – a reliable, bombproof dun gelding trusted with your granny or the fearful kiddie who’s never visited a farm. Good in traffic, easy to float and shoe, often underrated, you’d be surprised how valuable these old faithfuls really are.

Rodney Hide’s like the little teaser stallion – a pint-sized troublemaker useful for egging on the mares (literally); a loner who entertains everyone, but must remain over the fence, plotting and alone in his paddock, maybe a donkey for company, lest he sully the popularity of the winning herd.

Peters might be a crowd pleaser but if he doesn’t do better than the polls he’s bound for the electoral knackers yard; and win or lose Clark will be searching for fresh pastures before the end of the next parliamentary term.

Pundit election quiz


Pundit has designed an election quiz to help people decide how to vote, or confirm for those who’ve already made up their minds whether or not their beliefs fit the policy of their preferred party .

I came out with a 76% fit for National and a similar one for Act.

To my horror I also got a 65% fit with New Zealand First but I was reassured when I worked out that anything we have in common can’t compensate for how strongly I oppose the matters on which we differ.

It would be impossible to find a party whose policy is 100% fit with your own views. But I think it was Sir Keith Holyoake who said that he was 100% behind 60% of his party’s views, there were about 30% that he was less enthusiastic about but they weren’t die-in-a-ditch matters and given that he could live with agreeing to disagree over the other 10%.

Dunne spurns Labour


The previous post is already old news – Peter Dunne has spurned Labour.

United Future is cutting its ties with Labour and has announced it will go with National after the election.

Party Leader Peter Dunne made the announcement at a joint press conference with National leader John Key at lunchtime on Sunday.

He says his party will support National and will definitely not do any deals with Labour after the election.

Dunne says he has not told Labour leader Helen Clark of the decision, and nor will he stand down from his current post as Minister of Revenue.

. . .  A Cabinet post appears to have been UnitedFuture’s price for going with National, though Dunne says National’s policy positions are more aligned with that of his party and better for the country.

He is coy about being a Minister in a National-led government but Key says he wants a strong working relationship, and would envisage Dunne being a member of Cabinet.

Both Key and Dunne say no deal has been struck over giving the UnitedFuture leader an easier run in his seat of Ohariu-Belmont.

However, Key acknowledges the focus there for National will be on the party vote.

The focus everywhere is on the party vote because that’s the one that counts but in many electorates National is seeking both votes.

There could be a coded message here for National supporters to split their votes and give the constituency one to Dunne and the party vote to National.

Katrina Shanks has been working very hard for National in the electorate but unless there’s an absolute disaster in the next 13 days she’s assured of a list seat.

Key – Dunne joint media conference


John Key is to hold a joint media conference  with Peter Dunne this afternoon.

There will be no surprises if Dunne says United Future is happy to coalesce with National after the election – but will he go so far as to say he won’t coalesce with Labour and add an eighth leader to the multi-headed hydra we’ll get if Labour leads the next government?

It’s probable he’ll be the only representative of UF in the next parliament. One seat probably won’t be enough to make the difference between forming a government or not for Labour, but will he be willing to burn his bridges just in case?

Key’s a go-getter


The Sunday Star Times asked John Key to do a BBC perosnality test and found he’s a go-getter.

Go-getters, according to the BBC researchers who developed the personality test, are inventive, resourceful problem-solvers with a love of life who, bizarrely, are the personality type “least likely to enjoy reading poetry books”.

All but the last of these traits would be useful in someone who could  lead us out of a recession and while I love poetry I wouldn’t put it at the top of my list of requirements for leadership.

The SST invited Helen Clark to take the test but she declined.

You can take it here.

Nothing like a Dame – or Knight


John Key said if National’s in government they might review the honours system.

In this week’s edition of The Listener, Key says he preferred the old honours system of knighthoods and damehoods, to the present system where the top honour is the Order of New Zealand.

“The aspect of titles that I personally liked is that you could celebrate success in New Zealanders and you can’t always do that with this [new] system,” he said.

Key said changing the honours system was not something he would do in his first week but “down the track we could have a look at that, have a review”.

The Sunday Times asked people recognised under both systems and found they supported titles.

The egalitarian in me balks at hereditary titles, but I am more warmly disposed to those people have earned.

There may be arguments about some who’ve got honours but they are the exceptions because most are deserved.

I had the privilege of sitting on a board with Sir Robin Gray and recently had dinner with friends where Sir Brian Lahore was also a guest. Both enhance the honour rather than the reverse and I think that is true for most recipients.

However, whether or not titles are reintroduced I would like a change to the current system which few understand.

If we’re going to have our own honours we should make them properly our own and award our brightest and best the Order of the Kiwi.

That would be a fittingly New Zealand way of honouring someone without getting too effusive because the recipients would then be Jo (or Joe) Bloggs OK 🙂

DIY democracy


Jane Clifton makes an interesting point in her interviews with John Key and Helen Clark in the latest Listener:

The leader of the Opposition has to make his own, the Prime Minister has to go out in person and buy hers in a paper cup. This really is a DIY democracy. Would Gordon Brown, George W Bush, or even Frank Bainimarama put up with it?

I suspect both Key and Clark could ask someone to get the coffee for them, but it’s good to know our leaders aren’t above making or buying their own.

(The interviews won’t be on line until mid November but you can read a preview of Key’s interview here  and Clark’s here.)

None of our business


A journalist who wants to be taken seriously shouldn’t ask silly questions and a paper that wants to be taken seriously shouldn’t publish them.

Carolyne Meng-Yee asked Peter Davis if he showered with his wife and if he enjoyed sex and the HOS was silly enough to publish it.

There are few occasions when those would be legitimate questions for a journalist to ask and this interview wasn’t one of them.

It’s none of our business.

(And this is not an invitation for comments on the Davis-Clark personal life because that’s not our business either).

Nat plan hard times package


John Key repeated on Agenda what he said on TV 1 news last night, National is planning a package to provide short term relief  for people who lose their jobs in the recession.

It would help cover pressing bills such as mortgage repayments or rent.

Key is not disclosing further details, but it is thought people would be able to apply for an interest-free loan.

He told Agenda there is no question New Zealand is in recession and details of the package would be released next weekend.

A transcript of the interview will be on line here later.

Key would take tourism


John Key has just told Agenda that if he’s Prime Minister his intention is to be Minsiter of Tourism too.

He said that’s because of its importance to the country.

Vote NZ First to get Labour


Political scientists Nigel Roberts and Barry Gustafson say people who want a Labour government should vote for Winston Peters in Tuaranga and give New Zealand First the party vote elsewhere.

Labour voters in Tauranga had enough votes to swing the seat to the New Zealand First leader, guaranteeing the party a presence in parliament and providing a coalition partner for Labour, Roberts told the Sunday Star-Times.

And if enough Labour voters outside Tauranga switched their party vote to New Zealand First, the party would exceed the 5% threshold and provide at least six seats for a Labour-led coalition.

Just as so many have been saying: a vote for NZ First is a vote for Labour and a vote for Labour is a vote for Peters in cabinet:

Labour First

Labour First

Gustafson, a former National Party candidate and now emeritus professor of politics at Auckland University, said National leader John Key had made a tactical error by refusing to accept New Zealand First as a possible coalition partner.

Sometimes you have to make a stand, have a bottom line and put principle before politics.

Key has done that and given voters a choice – a National led government without Peters or a Labour led one with him, and probably three other parties and five other leaders.

But Key said yesterday he was well aware that his decision to rule out New Zealand First as a coalition partner could cost him the chance to be prime minister. “We didn’t walk into that press conference and make that announcement lightly but in the end New Zealanders will decide who they want to lead the next government.

“If they want a party that is committed to economic recovery and is committed to our economy then they will support a National government with very few moving parts. If they consider the other option they’ve got to consider a five-headed monster.”

Or more likely a seven headed monster:

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Have you noticed . . .


. . .  that when Winston Peters was asked about New Zealand First’s returns to the Electoral Commission he said that was a matter for the organisational wing of the party?

But now the commission has found  the party secretary didn’t commit an offence he’s happy to talk to the media and he’s saying he’s been cleared.

He was wrong then and he’s wrong now.

He is the party so the returns did concern him and he hasn’t been cleared.

13 more sleeps . . .


. . .  until election day and John Key’s ahead in the character polls.

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